Re: The Bill -- version A

From: Richard C. Johnson <dick_at_iwwco_dot_com>
Date: Thu Jan 26 2006 - 21:47:53 CST

    I have attached my copy of Alan Dechert's proposed law with my comments. In general, I agree with it and like some parts more than others. The only real problem is the lack of definition in terms like "details," that I believe should be spelled out. There is also the matter of giving the public access to voting machines for testing and inspection; here it is truly necessary to specify the means. A simple declaration of the right to purchase by individuals and/or organizations ought to settle matters. Interested parties, like election authorities, would not buy until the machines were certified. The trick is to have alternative certified machines listed in time for the public to weigh in before election authorities rush out and spend all their money. This is truly a matter of timing. Maybe the state could give each certified machine a score, updated after public comment (and testing).
  -- Dick Johnson

Alan Dechert <> wrote:
Here's what I got so far. If you want something different, please do one of
two things 1) Create your own version ... if it seems decent, I'll submit
that too. 2) suggest changes, edits, additions, etc.

Obviously, I flunked by self-imposed deadline of last Monday .. the hard
deadline is fast approaching, so if you want to have some input on this,
better get it out here right away

Current state law requires that the vote counting process be publicly
observable. However, with the advent of computerized vote counting
processes, the ability of the public to meaningfully observe tabulation is
limited since details of these systems are secret. Public scrutiny is
lacking. The People of California declare that every voter has the right to
know that votes are accurately recorded and counted.

This bill would require vendors to disclose all technical details when
applying for state certification for a voting system. The Secretary of
State would manage a process whereby citizens can obtain technical
information free of charge, including computer source code, relevant to
voting systems under review for certification as well as systems that have
obtained state certification.

This public review process shall be in place by June 30, 2007. In the event
that a vendor of a system certified before June 30, 2007 refuses to comply
with disclosure requirements, their system(s) shall be decertified. The
Secretary of State shall ensure that a suitable replacement be available.

This bill would require that to the extent that they are available for the
purposes of this article, federal funds or the Voting Modernization Fund, a
special fund, shall be used. The bill would prohibit the expenditure of
General Fund moneys for these purposes.

By increasing the duties of local elections officials, the bill would impose
a state-mandated local program. The California Constitution requires the
state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs
mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making
that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that the Legislature finds there is no mandate
contained in the bill that will result in costs incurred by a local agency
or school district for a new program or higher level of service which
require reimbursement pursuant to these constitutional and statutory


a) By June 30, 2007, the Secretary of State shall not approve a voting
system for use in a public election until all details of the inner workings
of the system are publicly disclosed.

b) By June 30, 2007, while applying for voting system certification in the
State of California a vendor shall have an implied or express provision

i) To any and all residents of the State of California the right to inspect
and test such Voting System, to retain test materials, test results, and to
freely publish the same openly.

ii) The Vendor shall promise to refrain from exerting any copyright, trade
secret, or other rights that it may have to hinder any resident of the State
from exercising the right to inspect, test, and publish.

c) The Vendor may require reasonable notice of public testing and may
require that the tests be performed in a matter that does not burden the
vendor with significant costs beyond those of making the Voting System

d) The materials to be made freely available to the public include:

i) All voting system specific source code
ii) Detailed instructions for building the software, including compiler
used, compilation scripts, checksums
iii) For voting specific hardware, complete specifications, drawings and
schematics must be made available
iv) General purpose COTS components must be described in detail, including
versions and dates of manufacture

e) By June 30, 2007 the Secretary of State shall establish and maintain a
page on the Internet to provide the following:

i) Free download of materials pertaining to each voting system certified or
under consideration for certification
ii) A system for acquiring and processing input from the public
iii) A reporting system to inform the public on findings, problems
reported, problem resolution, comments from the Secretary of State, the
public, and vendors
iv) Standards used by the Secretary of State for evaluating voting systems
including test plans and specific test cases employed

For purposes of this article, the following terms shall have the following

a) "COTS" means Common Off-The-Shelf component that is manufactured in large
quantities and is widely available.

b) "General purpose COTS devices" -- a COTS component intended for use in a
variety of non-voting systems

c) "Voting specific" hardware or software means a component manufactured
specifically for use in a voting system

d) "Vendor" -- Any person, partnership, corporation, or other entity that
offers a Voting System, whether for money or not, to the State of
California, to any county or city of the State of California, or to any
government agency.

e) "Voting System" -- Any computerized machinery used in a Public Election
to present one or more Contests to voters, to obtain voter choices, to
verify voter choices, to store voter choices, to communicate voter choices,
to tabulate voter choices, or to present partial or full results of one or
more contests.

f) "Source code" -- computer instructions written by programmers

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Received on Mon Jan 8 20:24:35 2007

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